by Corey Pronman
Day one is completed and there’s a whole six rounds left! I have some notes on each team’s selection in the first round. Reports on the player can be found here.
I also should state that from my original Top 100 Draft Prospects I posted, I have altered my position on two prospects in Oscar Klefbom and Stuart Percy based on film I’ve watched and discussion I’ve had since the ranking went up. I wouldn’t propel either up 20 spots or anything, but I think in a re-rank I’d move them each about 10-12 spots upward.
Also as always I’ll be posting my thoughts about the draft over at @coreypronman.
Anaheim Ducks-Rickard Rakell: Wasn’t a huge fan of picking Rakell at 30. I was under the impression from the Ducks before the day started that they thought they could trade down and still get a good player. However I didn’t know they would go for a low-upside/maybe can be a decent bottom-six guy as the player they would be aiming for when there was still scoring talent available.
Boston Bruins-Dougie Hamilton: I would have preferred Murphy or even Beaulieu here but can’t really fault Boston for this pick. He’s got great physical upside and while there have been questions about his decision-making; Hamilton switched to defense very recently and is an extremely bright kid. If his hockey IQ catches up to his true IQ the kid can be a stud and if not he’ll still be a very good player.
Buffalo Sabres-Joel Armia: Really liked this pick for Buffalo as Armia is the kind of home-run swing their organization needed. They have a fair amount of decent to solid prospects throughout the pipelines, but Armia is the one with the best chance to be a top producer/first-line type player. He’s got a couple of holes in his game and there is notable risk in the pick but he has top ten upside in this draft class.
Calgary Flames-Sven Bartschi: I thought there were a couple of players I would have preferred other than Bartschi at 13, but I don’t really have a problem with this pick. It’s somewhat safe, but there is above-average upside with Bartschi as well. The Flames system needs a lot especially with Erixon gone and this was a fine step in the right direction.
Carolina Hurricanes-Ryan Murphy: “Wow” is all I can really say. I thought I saw a little hop in Carolina’s step as they went up to the podium to make this pick. Murphy has top-end upside and while he has risk, Carolina’s system is so loaded they can live with some risk. If he pans out, Murphy and Justin Faulk will terrorize opposing penalty killers for many years.
Chicago Blackhawks-Marc McNeill & Phillip Danault: I had McNeill as a top ten prospect so I obviously think Chicago did well here. McNeill isn’t a work-killer offensive threat, but he’s a great do-everything player. He can project to start a lot in the defensive zone against top competition, drive the play the other way and put up good Corsi numbers and score at an above-average level. Danault went around where I had him ranked. His intangibles are commonly touted, but I think his offensive skills are decent, and I wouldn’t classify them as below-average. I think it’s plausible that he can be a decent scorer at the next level. I would have preferred a little more risk with the second pick as the organization has way too much prospect depth, but the Hawks still came away pretty well in the first.
Colorado Avalanche-Gabriel Landeskog & Duncan Siemens: If you read some of my work lately around here, you can probably take a guess about what I thought of this haul with a 2nd and 11th overall pick. Landeskog I didn’t like that high for reasons I’ve stated before, but I still think he’ll be a below-average first line to above-average second line scoring power winger with great two-way contribution. The Siemens pick is the one I like the least. I get why the Avs could like Siemens in the physical tools and skating ability, but there isn’t enough to his skill set in my opinion to justify using an 11th on him. In a really perfect world he maxes out as an ok #3 to good #4 defenseman, in a somewhat perfect world he tops out as a below-average #4, in a realistic world he’s probably a good third pairing type. Do I see the reason for optimism? Sure, but I also don’t see enough possession tools here to ever get him beyond a certain ceiling and that limited ceiling isn’t what I want of 11th overall picks.
Columbus Blue Jackets: No pick
Dallas Stars-Jamieson Oleksiak: Thought this one was a bit of a reach but Dallas obviously wanted to gamble on the elite-level physical tools. Oleksiak isn’t a Hall-Gill type player in my opinion, but he doesn’t have the skills to get to a first pairing either so I’d place his projection in a happy median between that range. This was a somewhat risky pick, and while I can see why some scouts see the top-end upside to this pick, I don’t.
Detroit Red Wings: No pick
Edmonton Oilers-Ryan-Nugent Hopkins & Oscar Klefbom: I thought the Oilers did the right thing with the first pick. They took the best player in the class, the one with the highest upside and the one who has a chance to not only be a great player, but an elite one if some things go right. I’m not an Oscar Klefbom fan to the degree others are and while I can see the love for the frame, skating and potential I’m not sold on the hockey sense and think for where he is now he’s more of a project than a top prospect. As stated above though, I have come around on him somewhat since I posted his original ranking and report.
Florida Panthers-Jonathan Huberdeau: This is what the organization needed, and they got it without going out of draft range.
Los Angeles Kings: No pick
Minnesota Wild-Jonas Brodin & Zack Phillips: I liked this draft for Minnesota even though I thought Brodin talent-wise was a reach at 10 especially with Murphy and Beaulieu still on the board. Their system needed depth and players they think can make it and be decent contributors. Their pipelines have somewhat dried up in Minny and with Granlund providing high-end upside getting these kind of prospects help stabilize the system.
Montreal Canadiens-Nathan Beaulieu: I have not been a fan of the Habs prospect management the last few years, but they got great value here and I have nothing but praise for Montreal. Beaulieu has the raw tools to possibly be a first pairing defender and you usually don’t get that at 17.
Nashville Predators: No pick
New Jersey Devils-Adam Larsson: It’s amazing how in a few short years a system that was barren in defense prospects now is one of the top organizations in hockey in young defensemen. Adam Larsson, Jon Merrill, Alex Urbom and Eric Gelinas are a heck of a collection on defense. I would have preferred Strome or Couturier at 4, but the Devils still did more than fine and walk away with a near sure-fire first pairing defender and it isn’t crazy to think he will be a league-average number one.
New York Islanders-Ryan Strome: In my opinion in terms of raw upside, Ryan Strome is second in this class only to Nugent-Hopkins. The rich get richer as the young talent will be coming in waves and strength to the island.
New York Rangers-J.T. Miller: I’m not a huge fan of this pick and while I get why some like Miller in the intangibles, the physical game and the solid skill set. However I don’t see the hockey sense in Miller and I think he’s a bottom-six player in the NHL. He has the raw skills to prove me wrong and get to a 2nd line status, but something major would have to click for that to happen.
Ottawa Senators-Mika Zibanejad, Stefan Noesen & Matt Puempel: I love Zibanejad and it’s really hard to go wrong with a player of his stature. He’ll play on a first line and score at a normal pace there while working his tail off every shift and provide top-end two-way production. Now the Noesen pick I didn’t like just because it was way too safe a pick for a tough, hard-working forward who has ok offensive skills but likely won’t be a top six in the league. Puempel is great goal-scorer and one of the best in the class but his possession skills might barely be average. Overall I like the accumulation that Ottawa got here and they didn’t horribly botch it, but if you told me a team would have three first round picks I would have thought they’d leave day one with just a notch higher talent level in the basket. This is a very safe draft class.
Philadelphia Flyers-Sean Couturier: Talk about a turn around, two days ago I would have mocked the Flyers’ system like I usually do if brought up in conversation but with Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier now in the organization they have two significant cornerstone pieces that can make the loss of their franchise players more bearable. I love Couturier, he’s as sure a bet as there is in the draft to be a good two-way first line center and has the talent level to go beyond that. Now this system’s top four prospects actually looks pretty good with Schenn, Couturier, Erik Gustafsson and Tom Sessito at the forefront of their pipelines.
Phoenix Coyotes-Connor Murphy: Phoenix took a bit of a risk here on a player who didn’t play much this year, but with his play at the Under-18’s and the hockey sense he showed on top of the physical tools does make him a desirable prospect. Thought this was a bit of a reach, but it wasn’t that bad.
Pittsburgh Penguins-Joe Morrow: I loved this pick for the Pens as Morrow is one the top offensive talent from the blueline in this class and has top-end puck-moving abilities. The Pens have assembled a nice punch of defensive talent in their system now with Joe Morrow and Simon Despres as the top end guys, but Bortuzzo, Strait and Sneep round out the depth and make this a fine collection of young defenders.
San Jose Sharks: No pick, and my new favorite team to pick on for having a poor system and dealing future assets. Philadelphia you have lost that privilege.
Tampa Bay Lightning-Vladislav Namestnikov: Tampa went with the first Russian in this class, but Namestnikov isn’t a traditional Russian pick not considering the fact he played in the OHL. He has above-average skating and puck skills, but not real plus offensive tool. He’s a fine two-way player who can project to have a decent physical game and will be able to play the center position at the pro level. There was some upside to this pick, but not much risk.
Toronto Maple Leafs-Tyler Biggs & Stuart Percy: Percy was 1 of 2 prospects I came around on after my rankings went up originally. I understated his puck-moving skills as they’re deceptively underrated and his hockey sense allows him to create offense out of a skill set where you wouldn’t think offense would come from. He’s a safe prospect, but isn’t a low-tier prospect either and with his physical game, hockey sense and decent puck-moving skills it’s easily to see him being a decent pro player. Now Biggs on the other hand is a pick I did not like at all. Nevermind the fact the Leafs traded up and dealt a high second to get him, in terms of the player himself there isn’t much there to dream on. Yes he has the plus physical game, decent mobility and has a solid shot but his holes are major possession-skill holes that are hard to correct. In a perfect world he ends up a good 3rd line player who can spot in front of the net on a 2nd unit powerplay, but likely ends up a decent to below-average bottom-six player who is a fan favorite for grinding it out and bringing a physical element but doesn’t bring high-end quantifiable value to the table.
Vancouver Canucks-Nicklas Jensen: I didn’t mind this pick as there is a decent amount of upside and risk to Jensen but he went roughly around where I thought his talent level suggested he should.
Washington Capitals: No pick
Winnipeg Jets-Mark Scheifele: Wasn’t a fan of this pick and while I can see the physical tools and how he did towards the end of the season and the Under-18’s I haven’t seen from his play or heard from scouts indication Scheifele had the upside to warrant such a high selection. He has commonly been seen as a safe pick, not an above-average 2nd line type.